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What are the 4C’s in design?

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The 4C’s in design give a graphic designer a structure to work to, four steps that will produce genuinely eye-catching and durable design that does what it was designed to do – catch people’s attention and direct them to you!

The 4C’s are:

  • Customer
  • Concept
  • Components
  • Composition

Let’s look at these in more detail …

1. Customer

Always remember while you obviously need to like your design, it’s actually for your customers. 

Right at the start of the design process you need to define who your target customers are, what they like, what they want to see and what they respond to.

If you have a few customer types, map out their preferences/demands/triggers alongside each other so you can identify the common traits/themes.  This will massively help you produce design that caters to the vast majority of them.

2. Concept

Once you have a have a clear picture of your target customer/s, you need to have a concept that will appeal to them. 

Don’t worry about the jargon, a concept is just an idea but it needs to be an idea that encapsulates:

  • Your key selling points (don’t start us on the failings of ‘USP’!)
  • What you want them to see
  • How you plan to reach them (some design won’t work in certain media or formats)
  • How do you want them to react (for example, a luxury brand wants a very different reaction to a charity)


3. Components

If you have clearly defined guidelines (and every brand must have clearly defined brand guidelines!), list out all the components your design must contain to stay faithful to your guidelines. 

This will include logos, font, colour palette, imagery, photography and more.  However, your guidelines should also define position, alignment and interaction between words and images.  This will be crucial to the fourth C, composition.

If you don’t have guidelines, please get in touch and we can help you review your current branding and produce a new set for you.

4. Composition

Despite the fact this bit does have to lean on the composition rules set out in your brand guidelines, this is the fun bit!

This is where you take your customer, your concept and your components and turn them into something creatively exciting!

Largely speaking yes, they do, but it’s probably a good idea to bring the list up to date to make it more applicable to the demands of producing stand out design in a digital market given your competition is quite literally multiplying every day.

In a digital marketing context perhaps the 4C’s should now stand for:

1. Communication

This is vital.  If your website design doesn’t say what it should to your target audience, your website won’t work. 

Make sure your website design matched your brand values and communicates all the messages it must.  For example, traditional design doesn’t say contemporary, static design doesn’t say dynamic and cluttered, clunky text heavy templates don’t say user friendly!

2. Consistency

Make sure your website design matches the design you’re using across all your other channels.

Consistency builds brand identity. 

Consistency builds trust. 

Consistently builds recognition. 

Consistency builds engagement.

And I know we say it far too much but only because it’s true!  Good marketing is all about consistency.

3. Clarity

If your design is going to make the desired impact, it also needs to be clear.  Design for design’s sake doesn’t work however cool it looks. 

If you want your design to bring people in and hold their attention, it needs to clearly and immediately say exactly what you’re about …

… and what you will do for them.

4. Creativity

And of course, your design needs to be creative.  If people think they’ve seen if before, they won’t stop at (or should that be ‘on’) your website.  People don’t want tired, they want exciting, challenging, and new so never, ever settle for easy and comfortable!

If you would like to create an exciting, eye-catching, customer grabbing brand that conforms to both sets of 4C’s, please get in touch today at [email protected] so we can arrange an initial chat.

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